What Is a Push-Pull Pedal Steel Guitar?

Learn what a push-pull pedal steel guitar is in this Howcast video.

You may have read or seen the word push-pull to describe particular kinds of pedal steel guitars. And what is that?

Well, it involves a technology and mechanical savoir faire that I personally don’t have. But it basically describes a type of technology device by the Emmons Pedal Steel Guitar Company in the 60’s to accomplish the process of transferring the energy you apply on the pedals with the knee levers to achieve the change in notes that you’re trying to get with a pedal steel.

In a narrow framework like this the physics of these rods and levers underneath is pretty complicated. You have a small amount of real estate to make these changes happen.

And push-pull basically describes one technology that was used to accomplish this. It faded out. It’s slightly more complicated than modern pedal steel guitars which use what’s called an all-pull system.

Pretty much all of the guitars made today are all-pull including those made by Emmons.

So without, you don’t have to really know all the ins and outs of the technology involved. But suffice it to say that push-pulls do have a particular sound. They are still prized instruments. They do require a little more knowledge and maintenance.

So, it’s not a bad thing. It could be a very good thing. They have a very unique and wonderful sound.

But the fact is that most people currently, especially if you’re using a modern instrument, it will be all-pull technology and it’s slightly simpler to get around.